Around 12% of people who sign up for a gym membership in January quit or stop going after 24 weeks. There are two lessons to take from this – first, it is a wise idea to try out a shorter membership before committing and second, budding athletes or fitness buffs should choose an activity that is truly suited to their needs. 


When you undertake an activity that ‘clicks’ with your personality, you are likely to stay motivated for longer. One recent study by the teams behind corporate wellness platform, Gympass and psychology, app ifeel, has found that it is possible to target specific aspects of mental wellbeing through exercise. The report, entitled Deporte y Salud Mental (Sports and Mental Health) recommends the following activities to help readers reach a good balance between their physical and mental health.

For Anxiety: Yoga

Yoga and other mindful activities such as Tai Chi and mindfulness meditation have been found in study after study to have a powerful reductive effect on cortisol (a stress hormone which, when chronically present, can cause anxiety and panic attacks and even trigger depression). Through pranayamic breathing and the performance of asanas (postures), body and mind behave as one and the whole being is brought to ‘the present moment’ almost immediately. Yoga is currently used in many settings in which stress can be an issue – including substance abuse rehabilitation, breast cancer treatment, and PTSD treatment.

For Depression: Boxing

Although other activities (especially mindful ones) can also be helpful for this condition, experts recommend boxing, since it floods the body with feel-good endorphins. These lift the mood and boost self-confidence and trust. Sign up for a boxing class or bring a boxing sack home, put on your gloves and channel your inner Muhammad Ali.

For Panic Attacks: Pilates

If you’ve ever taken a Pilates class before then you know that this class is ultra-controlled. The key is to perform every exercise with precision so as to obtain maximum benefits. Pilates, say the experts, allows you to dominate the body and control impulses, while boosting your concentration.

For Insomnia: Running

Aerobic exercises such as running improve your circulation and cardiac frequency, relaxing your body and facilitating optimal rest. If you have joint problems or you require a lower-impact activity, then brisk walking, rowing, swimming, and indeed any other activity that gets your heart pumping will do.

For Social Issues: Team sports

That’s right; the more you feel like being alone all the time, the more you should reach out to others by enjoying a fun sport like football, basketball, or volleyball. These sports boost communication as in order to succeed, players need to use short, simple signs that foster unity and talk about strategy and tactics.

For Fear of Isolation: Swimming

When you have a fear, there is no better strategy than to embrace it. Swimming will help you perceive the beauty of a little ‘me time’ to perfection. Because this sport does not permit distractions (such as music or the presence of others), it enables you to focus your attention on the place in which only you exist.

For Couples’ Issues: Ballroom Dancing

Although practising any sport as a couple can strengthen bonds, dance is a particularly fun way to enjoy close contact while working on a clear common goal. Make sure to go for this activity with your partner; remember what happened when Richard Gere signed up to ballroom dancing lessons with a special teacher (Jennifer López) to impress his wife in the film Shall We Dance? We put our case to rest.

For Low Self-Esteem: Indoor Cycling

Indoor cycling favors the production of neurotransmitters associated with pleasure and relaxation while toning your body and burning fat. Cycle alongside friends for extra motivation and download a great playlist to keep your legs moving fast!

For Grieving: Karate

Those who have lost someone they love can benefit from a sport that helps them unload painful emotions and become their own anchor ‘in the here and now’. This sport requires contact, conscience of the body, and the controlled expression of energy. Therefore, it can be a valuable aid during life’s greatest challenges.

For ADHD: Tai Chi

Tai Chi requires rigorous discipling, great concentration, and coordination and control. Developing these abilities can be very helpful for those who find it hard to focus. In one study undertaken by scientists at John Hopkins University, it was found that Tai Chi was associated with significant improvements in school-aged children with ADHD. The activity helped them control inattentive, hyperactive, and impulsive behavior.